Edmonton police are searching for a man accused of taking an explosive device into a Whyte Avenue grocery store Saturday night.

Police were called to a Safeway on 109 Street and 82 Avenue around 6 p.m. Saturday after reports of a suspicious package.

"We had an individual come into the store, left his bag and what we believed in the bag to be a pipe bomb," said acting inspector Dan Jones.

"As he picked his bag up and left, the pipe bomb ended up in the alley."

Jones says a store clerk was the one who noticed the suspicious package and called police.

Police blocked off the area and say a homemade pipe bomb was discovered in the bag, which had been dropped in an alleyway between two apartment buildings where dozens of seniors live.

Elizabeth Johnston was on her patio when police told her to get inside. Johnston was one of a number of seniors stuck in their homes for several hours.

“(It’s) scary, very scary,” Johnston said.

“We couldn’t leave. We had to stay in our suites. I was really curious but after it was over I thought ‘oh my gosh,’ you hear of terrorists doing this kind of thing in other countries, but not here.”

“It’s pretty close to home,” said senior Monty Yardley.

“There were cop cars all over the place.

“For somebody to be that callous to throw that thing over the wall and walk away,” said Louis Deveaux. “(It) could have done some real damage.”

The bomb squad and a police robot were brought in to help detonate the device.

No damage or injuries were reported but police say the incident was a major inconvenience that affected hundreds of drivers, and could have had many victims.

“If the device can see you and it goes off, it can hurt you,” Jones said.

“It’s unfortunate that a, for lack of a better term, stupid act affects people in a negative manner.”

Police are reviewing security footage from the grocery store and interviewing staff.

A suspect description has not been released and a motive is unclear at this time.

With files from Sean Amato